Intention vs Resolutions – an Addendum to Goals Setting

[This is a little add on to my January 1 post on goal setting that I believe complements that material.]

It is January 3rd….if you have not declared your Resolutions, might as well give up. You are a loser. It’s gotta be done on January 1st, at the first second after midnight, or it won’t work. And everything must be carried out perfectly. No leftover Christmas goodies for you, Bub. Don’t you dare overspend on your grocery budget. Had an exasperated thought toward your kids? You blew it. Might as well wait for December 31st to begin again. Can’t tarnish your perfect record, now, can we?

Heard this before? This is part of why resolutions don’t work. An All or Nothing mindset. It totally goes against human nature. We are dependent upon the idea of taking actions to fix us. I do believe that creating healthy habits in our daily lives contribute to our success and well being. I’ve been working on a handful of habits daily since August 1st of 2016, and have seen a lot of success. I’ve started small, and have added to each habit, little by little. And I have had added habits over time. I haven’t been perfect with them, and I don’t beat myself up when I’ve botched it. However, even more important than the effort put into the habit, is the intention behind the habit. But we need to bring a kind of filter to our actions, a kind of gentle spark. And that spark is Intention.

Intentions have a compassionate energy behind them. They are not tied into the success of an outcome. They ask that we bring some mindfulness to our actions and make efforts to do our best. We can have a plan and work the plan. But when we get off track or take a misstep, or outright fail, we forgive ourselves….AND START AGAIN. We can even show some forbearance toward ourselves. We can know that this action is not part of the plan, and we can not muck around in the guilt and shame that comes with it. The next moment is brand new. Start again. Socrates said, “The secret to change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

When you walk with intention. You have a subdued focus that filters your actions. It’s good at the beginning of goal setting to harness some of that passion and determination that comes with the initial thrill of carving out your intentions. The key word is harness. A harness is gear that is used for controlling an animal. Have the passion. It’s good and necessary. It’s a kind of fuel. But, keep it in check. And don’t let it run rampart over your confidence when you get off track.

And guess what?

You’re gonna get off track. You’re gonna misstep here and there. Unless you are an alien. I’m pretty sure my target audience is human. Therefore, be kind to yourself when you sway, or outright fail. Start again. Keep your head, and start again. It’s okay. You are allowed to do that. Really, you are. If you are concerned about what others might think, it’s not their fight. It’s yours. Actually, think of it as a walk, a journey. You are going to a different place than they are. You might have a similar goal or desire a similar outcome, but you’re going to have a different route to get there. Own up to your meanderings, and get back on the track, and resume walking. One step at a time. Drip.Drip.Drip.

Disclosure: today’s post was inspired from the app Calm. Today’s Daily Calm session (January 3,2017) was titled Intention, and I definitely borrowed some of the quotes and phrasing from it. I wholeheartedly recommend this app for mindfulness practice. I gladly pay $39.99 for the yearly subscription, it’s worth every penny.

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Zig and Seth’s Goals Program (and mine)

Well, it’s that time of the year again…

Resolutions! (Ugggghhh….I hate resolutions!)

Guess what? I don’t make resolutions. I set goals. Why, you ask? Well when you resolve to do something, you are resolving to DO something. DO implies acting (which is important, you can’t resolve something without action.) However, if you aren’t taking the right actions, what you “resolve” to do might not matter to begin with. If, instead, you to choose a target, rather than just acting with the same ol’ same ol’. (Going to the gym, getting out of debt, etc.) How are you going to know when you’ve reached your goal unless you’ve defined it clearly? Don’t be a wandering generality, be a meaningful specific. That’s a quote from Zig Ziglar, and it’s his goals program that I want to highlight today.

I was introduced to Zig’s program through Seth Godin’s Pick Four book. Seth listened to and listened to over and over again Zig’s motivational tapes during a rough patch in his early adult years, to the point where he wrote down Zig’s goals process and began implementing it. And it worked. About four years ago, Seth reformatted it and tweaked it in a small spiral bound book that is intended to be used in a 90 day period. It is something I’ve been using, and I’m going to review it here.

1.) Setting goals works. First of all, you must choose something, and in doing so, you are not choosing the others. One possibility out of others. And in doing so, you are saying “this is something I care about, this is something I will devote my energy to.” So….choose wisely. (I think I’ve mentioned that before elsewhere.)

2.) Become like a child sitting on Santa’s lap. Take about a half day and just dream. Dream big. It’s okay. Write. Down. EVERYTHING. Even silly stuff. Then sleep on it. Take another half day. Do it again. Sleep on it. Then take a look at your list. Eliminate anything that is obviously beyond the laws of physics or that can’t be supported by science. Then eliminate anything that, well, just clearly isn’t plausible. (Ok, the Queen of England is NOT going to call you up and ask you to go on a secret mission….dreaming big is ok. Unmitigated fantasy is not.) List them into these categories: Career, Family, Financial, Mental, Physical, Social/Emotional, Spiritual. If one category is out of balance over the others, dream up a few more goals. “Let’s assume that the overriding purpose of your goals is to live a life that benefits others, one that you’re proud of, one that allows you to reach your potential – does your list reflect that?” For each item ask “What happens to me and the people I care about if I reach this goal?” If you can’t come up with an answer that satisfies you, eliminate this goal. A goal you don’t care about isn’t a goal you are going to be able to work hard to achieve. If there are contradictions in the list, you’re going to have to make some choices to whittle down the list a bit more.

3.) Choose from your categorized list four goals. Only four for now. Start out this quarter small, and after a few wins under your belt, add more goals to your list of actively pursued goals.
For each goal, ask these questions:

A.) What will this goal look like when it’s completed? How will I actually know when I’ve completed my goal?

B.) What are the benefits from reaching this goal?

C.) What skills or knowledge are required to reach this goal?

D.) What are the major obstacles to overcome and mountains to climb in order to reach this goal?

E.) Who are the individuals and organizations I need to partner with to help me reach this goal?

F.) What is the plan for reaching this goal? (Write it out; tell it like a story.)
4.) After fleshing your goals out, it’s time to get started. Get a notebook or journal, and for each day, Monday through Friday, (you get Saturdays off,) follow the following format:
Goal_______________
Steps I took today to achieve this goal: ______________________(use as much space as needed.)
Is this enough? YES NO

If you didn’t do anything toward reaching a goal, write “NOTHING” in the blank space. Not to shame you, but you do need to feel a bit of negative stimulus if you are not consistently putting out effort.

On Sunday, you have a week in review. This is important. Ask these questions and write the answers:
Highlights from last week:__________________________
What got in the way/What didn’t work?:________________
What I learned from what didn’t work: _________________
You need the honest reflection so you can make mid course corrections. If something isn’t working, do something else. If you find a bunch of “NOTHING” s in your daily steps, then maybe you need to re-evaluate if you really want this goal.

As Seth writes, “Drip, drip, drip, things get done, progress is made, and goals are accomplished.”

Goals require effort, as resolutions do. The up front passion and determination of resolutions are great, but without a workable plan, then the envisioned glory fades quickly when friction and push back hits. Taking the time to define clearly and FEEL strongly at a core, even a spiritual level are both necessary to make significant progress. And the daily drip of accumulation will spur you on if you track it and record it.

Here’s to a prosperous and productive 2017!